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Episode 10: What Do We Want? Police Reform! When Do We Want It? Now!

Summary

This week, Kelley Richey and Julia Avery discover flaws within Law Enforcement in the face of Black Lives Matter protests in search of justice and reform.

Des Moines BLM (@DesMoinesBLM) | Twitter

Intro

The current movement, “Black Lives Matter,” brings many uncomfortable truths into the limelight. Despite overwhelming evidence, debates remain rife concerning the existence of racism, police brutality, and systemic injustices within the United States. 

Corruption in Law Enforcement and the system which enables it, is proven by years of irrefutable data. The rate in which people are increasingly murdered and mistreated at the hands of the system with little to no consequence is astonishing. Something has to be done about it and soon. 

Origins

The Watchmen

The United States colonies originally created a form of policing that closely mirrored that of England’s. Policing initially fell under two categories: 

  1. Informal and communal (The “Watch”)
  2. Private-for-profit 

The watch system consisted of volunteers with the purpose to warn of any incoming danger. The first three night watches were created by Boston (1636), New York (1658), and Philadelphia (1700). As a result of watchmen frequently getting drunk or sleeping on the job, the night watch was ineffective in controlling crime. Although described as “volunteers”, most of the men participated in the watch to actually evade military service, were forced into service by their town, or as a form of punishment.

It wasn’t until 1833 that a day watch was created. Philadelphia was the first state to create the day watch, followed by New York in 1844. The idea of a centralized municipal police department wasn’t introduced until the 1830’s. “In 1838, the city of Boston established the first American police force. By the 1880s all major U.S. cities had municipal police forces in place. “

“These “modern police” organizations shared similar characteristics: 

  1. They were publicly supported and bureaucratic in form
  2. Police officers were full-time employees, not community volunteers or case-by-case fee retainers
    1. Departments had permanent and fixed rules and procedures, and employment as a police officers was continuous
    2. Police departments were accountable to a central governmental authority”
Slave Patrols – Build Nation

The Slave Patrol

American policing in the Southern states took a completely different route. The modern police organization in the South was the “Slave Patrol.” The first patrol was created in the Carolina colonies in 1704. They had three primary functions:

  1. To chase down, apprehend, and return runaway slaves to their owners.
  2. To provide a form of organized terror to deter slave revolts.
  3. To maintain a form of discipline for slave-workers who were subject to summary justice, outside of the law, if they violated any plantation rules.

“Following the Civil War, these vigilante-style organizations evolved into a means of controlling freed slaves who were now laborers working in an agricultural caste system and enforcing “Jim Crow” segregation laws which were designed to deny freed slaves equal rights and access to the political system.”

https://plsonline.eku.edu/insidelook/history-policing-united-states-part-1

Training

Killology' expert speaks to CJUS majors - The Liberty Champion

Killology

Have you ever been curious about the training that police officers go through? Been curious about what officers are conditioned to do? The truth is both disturbing and mind-blowing. 

The man largely responsible for the training and conditioning of our police forces is Dave Grossman. In addition to our police forces, he trains the military, FBI, and armed citizens who pay for his training seminars. 

Grossman is the authority on aggression, close combat, and the psychology of violence. He is the author of a book on killing, amongst others, which have been translated into several languages. Grossman claims they are required reading at the FBI academy and many law enforcement academies. 

Dave Grossman has “lectured at West Point and claims to have conducted trainings for every federal law enforcement agency, every branch of the armed forces, and cops in all 50 states. For more than 19 years, he’s been on the road, leading seminars and trainings nearly 300 days a year.” All of his books, trainings, and seminars are based on a singular philosophy; Killology. His philosophy grew out of the two decades he spent training soldiers to kill more efficiently.

“We fight violence. What do we fight it with? Superior violence. Righteous violence.” 

By Dave Grossman
Source https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/02/dave-grossman-training-police-militarization/

“The military has long taught its troops to kill through a process of conditioned response—aim, shoot, aim, shoot—that’s meant to override the part of the brain that asks, “Should I be doing this?” By refining this approach, Grossman and others claim, the US military boosted its kill ratio—the percentage of frontline soldiers who actually shoot to kill—from between 15 and 25 percent during World War II to as much as 100 percent during the Vietnam War. Grossman takes this a step further. Rather than simply conditioning soldiers and police officers to shoot without hesitation, he teaches them to embrace their responsibility to kill. “Killing’s not the goal,” he cautioned in a 2004 interview with Frontline. “But we all understand that killing is the likely outcome.”

“Are you prepared to kill somebody?” he asks me and the small group of “armed citizens” who’ve paid $90 or more to see him. “If you cannot answer that question, you should not be carrying a gun.”

By Dave Grossman
Source https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/02/dave-grossman-training-police-militarization/

Dehumanization

Dave Grossman’s trainings and philosophy are dehumanizing and terrifying. By teaching people how to kill more efficiently, to be conditioned and shoot without second guessing, and that killing is the likely outcome promotes violence and thoughtlessness. 

Police are to serve and protect. Militarization is not and should never be the goal of law enforcement. Dehumanization is the opposite of what officers should be trained for. Discernment and non violent means to de-escalate situations should be the focus instead.

How can one be naturally inclined to serve and protect their people if they are conditioned to kill without thinking?

Listen Free to Behind the Bastards on iHeartRadio Podcasts | iHeartRadio

Behind the Bastards Podcast

“There’s a reason the History Channel has produced hundreds of documentaries about Hitler but only a few about Dwight D. Eisenhower. Bad guys (and gals) are eternally fascinating. Behind the Bastards dives in past the Cliffs Notes of the worst humans in history and exposes the bizarre realities of their lives. Listeners will learn about the young adult novels that helped Hitler form his monstrous ideology, the founder of Blackwater’s insane quest to build his own Air Force, the bizarre lives of the sons and daughters of dictators and Saddam Hussein’s side career as a trashy romance novelist.”

The podcast, Behind the Bastards, is brilliant and worth listening to! They have a fascinating episode devoted to Dave Grossman and his teachings. Do yourself a favor and tune in!

It's Time for Effective Oversight of Police Violence - Yes! Magazine

Corruption

Most misconduct involves routine infractions, but the records reveal tens of thousands of cases of serious misconduct and abuse. These records include:

  • 22,924 investigations of officers using excessive force
  • 3,145 allegations of rape, child molestation and other sexual misconduct 
  • 2,307 cases of domestic violence by officers
  • 2,227 instances of perjury, tampering with evidence or witnesses or falsifying reports
  • 418 reports of officers obstructing investigations, most often when they or someone they knew were targets.

Less than 10% of officers in most police forces get investigated for misconduct. Yet some officers are consistently under investigation. Nearly 2,500 have been investigated on 10 or more charges. Twenty faced 100 or more allegations yet kept their badge for years.”

Cover Up

Criminal Conduct is an investigative true-crime podcast series hosted by John Taylor and Javier Leiva. The hosts retrace the footsteps of the Eli Washtock, the slain sleuth—picking up the investigation where he left off.

“The St. Johns Sheriff’s Office quickly ruled the case a suicide, without examining crucial forensic evidence or interviewing any key witnesses. A medical examiner ruled her death a homicide, yet other investigations failed to gain traction.And her boyfriend Deputy Jeremy Banks was never charged and is still working as a St. Johns County Sheriff’s Deputy. Years later, an amateur sleuth named Eli Washtock winds up murdered after investigating Michelle O’Connell’s death. What did he find out?”

Check out this true-crime podcast series where you can learn about a homicide case in St. Augustine, Florida that is rife with police misconduct, corruption, and cover ups. It is one example of the many instances where corruption is prevalent within law enforcement.

The System

No one is above the law. Or at least no one should be. That said, how is it that so many officers literally responsible for upholding the law, have and continue to get away with rape, murder, fraud, cover ups and more? The answer lies within the system itself.

The system that is supposed to be designed to hold everyone to the same standard and opportunities, is instead based on outdated laws and maintains countless loopholes for those in positions of power. The system today holds citizens to higher standards and lesser privileges than those who are meant to uphold the law and protect the people of the United States. 

The reason corruption runs so rampant throughout law enforcement today is due to the fundamental flaws within the system that allow for it. These flaws include outdated laws that are still based off of Jim Crowe philosophies. They include Unions that help officers cover up records of their misconduct rather than hold each one accountable for their actions. They allow for internal reviews that erase and mismanage cases as a result of conflicts of interest rather than allowing a non biased third party to investigate. 

Unions

“Police unions are the major stumbling block against law enforcement reform,”

“The police union, in fact, institutionalizes the culture of maybe being a bad cop because it (represents) the status quo.’’

By Kalfani Ture (Former Police Officer in Georgia)
Source https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.usatoday.com/amp/5347136002

“Ture offered several examples of how police unions shield members from accountability for their actions, including coaching officers involved in use-of-force incidents on how to write favorable reports and having them collaborate to present a narrative that exonerates them from blame and places fault on the suspect.”

“If one wants to tackle the structural obstacles to holding rogue police officers accountable, it seems to me one has to address the power of police unions.”

Source https://reason.com/2020/05/30/police-unions-and-the-problem-of-police-misconduct/

As a Reuters report from a few years back documented, police union contracts in major cities routinely include provisions that erase disciplinary records and obstruct meaningful discipline (let alone prosecution) of police officers who abuse their authority.

Recent academic research further demonstrates that police disciplinary procedures established through union contracts obstruct accountability and (as I noted in this post) collective bargaining for police officers appears to increase police misconduct. This is not surprising. Through collective bargaining, police unions demand protections from disciplinary procedures that would not otherwise be approved, oppose consent decrees and other measures to increase police accountability, and (given the power of police unions in state and local politics) they receive relatively little pushback.”

Laws

A clear example showing where the law is designed to protect police from punishment over misconduct and crimes is as follows:

Anna, an 18 year old girl, was handcuffed and led to an unmarked police van with tinted windows by two detectives. They took turns raping her in the van while the other would drive. Eventually she was dropped off near the location where they picked her up and she was left without a phone or belongings, having to borrow a phone from a nearby passerby to call a friend for help. Surveillance footage proves this. 

“Anna assumed it was a simple case: Two cops had sex with a woman in their custody in the middle of their shift. But Anna didn’t know that in New York, there is no law specifically stating that it is illegal for police officers or sheriff’s deputies in the field to have sex with someone in their custody. 

Source https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/albertsamaha/this-teenager-accused-two-on-duty-cops-of-rape-she-had-no

It is one of 35 states where armed law enforcement officers can evade sexual assault charges by claiming that such an encounter — from groping to intercourse — was consensual, according to a BuzzFeed News review of every state legal code. 

In most of the states that do not explicitly outlaw sex between on-duty cops and detainees, including New York, an officer can claim consent and face only a misdemeanor “official misconduct” charge, which carries a maximum one-year sentence.”

How Do We Fix This?

Iconic ice cream brand Ben & Jerry's joins the chorus to "Defund the Police"

Defund the Police

There is a lot of misconception around what the movement “Defund the Police” actually means. 

“Defund the police” means reallocating or redirecting funding away from the police department to other government agencies funded by the local municipality. That’s it. It’s that simple. Defund does not mean abolish policing. And, even some who say abolish, do not necessarily mean to do away with law enforcement altogether. Rather, they want to see the rotten trees of policing chopped down and fresh roots replanted anew. Different from abolishing and starting anew, defunding police highlights fiscal responsibility, advocates for a market-driven approach to taxpayer money, and has some potential benefits that will reduce police violence and crime.” 

The amount of money the United States spends on policing is staggering: According to a recent analysis, the sum is $115 billion, which is bigger than nearly every other country’s military budget. In most cities, the police budget dwarves those for education, housing, and other crucial services. For example, Los Angeles’s proposed police budget for 2021 is $1.8 billion — more than half of the city’s total spending for the year. New York City’s annual police budget is a whopping $6 billion, which is more than the city spends on health, homeless services, youth development, and workforce development combined.

Defunding proposals would reallocate a fraction of that — for instance, activists and City Council candidates in New York City have proposed cutting the NYPD budget by $1 billion over the next four years.

Reform

After in depth research and reflection, it is evident that change must begin within all of our hearts. It is vital that as fellow humans, we acknowledge crime and injustice that haunts and preys upon others rather than redirect the dialogue to fit our political narrative. We must become vigilant in how our country’s system affects people. When injustice is prevalent, we must become a unified force to be reckoned with and ensure changes take place to restore ethics, compassion and equity.

We must demand changes to laws that discriminate and provide legal loopholes for people in positions of power. We must demand that police Unions become a thing of the past and that they be replaced by independent agencies to complete unbiased investigations and uphold integrity and accountability within law enforcement. We must demand reformed training for our officers to instill non violent tactics that focus on de escalation rather than escalation into violence and/or death. 

It is up to us to acknowledge the injustice in our flawed system and demand the changes to reform our nation. 

Do Yourself a Favor

Music

The newest album, “RTJ4”, by Run the Jewels premiered June 3, 2020. Check out details on their website here!

Film

Chi-Raq

Chi-Raq (2015) - IMDb
  • Spike Lee’s film is a musical comedy centering around gang violence in Chicago. Titled Chiraq, the film is based on the ancient Greek play Lysistrata about one woman’s effort to end the Peloponnesian war by persuading all Greek women to withhold sex from their husbands and lovers until peace is negotiated.

Blindspotting

Blindspotting (2018) - IMDb
  • Blindspotting is a 2018 American comedy-drama film written by, produced by and starring Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal.

Blackkklansmen

BlacKkKlansman - Wikipedia
  • BlacKkKlansman is a 2018 American crime film directed by Spike Lee and written by Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz, Kevin Willmott and Lee, based on the 2014 memoir Black Klansman by Ron Stallworth. The film stars John David Washington as Stallworth, along with Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, and Topher Grace.

Fruitvale Station

Fruitvale Station - Wikipedia
  • The story of Oscar Grant III, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident, who crosses paths with friends, enemies, family, and strangers on the last day of 2008.

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